What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? Can a person become either one of them with subjects PCM in Std XII? Are psychologists or psychiatrists needed in the defence forces?

Psychologists and psychiatrists both study the brain, emotions, feelings and thoughts, and work with people suffering from grief, trauma or mental disorders. Though they both work in the same field, the job description, education and training are very different.

Psychologists study the human mind through lab tests, surveys and interviews. They use this information to counsel patients suffering from mental disorders, grief or trauma. Their primary focus is on the patient’s thoughts, feelings and general mental health.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors. They specialize in the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of mental health problems. They may write prescriptions to help patients manage disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or bipolar disorder.

To become a psychologist, you would begin your education with graduation in Psychology, for which eligibility is 10+2 in any stream. Graduation should be followed by a master’s degree as well as a doctorate degree in Psychology. But if you want to become a Psychiatrist, you should go for MBBS for which 10+2 with PCB is the requirement. Later on, a specialization in Psychiatry should be done. Both are very well needed in the armed forces.


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I want to make a career in Psychology but I don’t know about its scope in Dehra Dun and Delhi. Please guide me.


A psychology degree opens up a wide range of career opportunities. Psychology graduates have knowledge of the assessment of personality, intelligence and attitudes, interviewing techniques, questionnaire design and analysis, child development, and methods of teaching and learning. This knowledge can be applied to an enormous number of occupations and profession like market research, social work, personnel management and career guidance. They may also be involved in investigations such as crime detection and lie detection.

You need at least a Master’s degree for professional work in which you might administer and interpret psychological tests, counsel college students with educational or emotional problems, or help the handicapped find suitable training and employment. Some firms employ their own psychologists who are always on the lookout to improve methods of training, working conditions, method of salesmanship, etc.

With a doctorate’s degree, they can qualify for more responsible research and counseling positions in hospitals, clinics and other health facilities. Research psychologists examine the behaviour of individuals in order to understand and explain how and why they act as they do.

The work of a psychologist should not be confused with that of the psychiatrist who are medical practitioners specializing in the prevention and cure of psychological disorders. The training of a psychiatrist usually takes a much different track when compared with psychologists.


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I want to become a psychologist

I’m a student of Std. X and I want to become a psychologist. What stream and subjects should I choose? Which are the good colleges in India or in the U.S. offering psychology? Are there any good research centres in India or the U.S.?

To become a psychologist, you need to have a Master’s degree in Psychology. So first complete Std. XII in any stream. Then go for a B.A. (Hons.) in Psychology, which is of three years’ duration. Many colleges admit students on the basis of marks obtained in 10+2. The better the college is, the higher the cut-off percentage goes.

Courses in Psychology are available almost all the universities. Some of these are Annamalai University, Annamalainagar; Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi; Banasthali Vidyapeeth, Banasthali; National Council of Educational research and Training (NCERT), New Delhi; Psychology of Education, Bureau of Education, Allahabad; University of Madras, Chennai; Tata Institute of Social sciences, Mumbai.


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